The Buick Verano is quiet. There is very little engine noise. There is very little road noise. There is very little wind noise. More than any other aspect of the Verano, the silence tells you that this model has ambitions as an entry-luxury machine. Now Buick has added a turbocharged model, which is available with a six-speed manual transmission. This powertrain might have made the Verano into a sport sedan -- but again, Buick is speaking very softly.
The Buick Regal may bring plenty of European sophistication to Buick's line-up, but buyers have collectively shrugged their shoulders of late; the Regal is now outsold by its American sibling, the Verano. To stay fresh, the Regal needed an infusion of technology and a bit more style and technology, which would explain why the 2014 Regal offers all three.
The Buick brand has evolved significantly since the current LaCrosse bowed at the 2009 Detroit auto show, so it's time for the full-size sedan to receive a facelift. The updates to the 2014 Buick LaCrosse bring the model in line with the rest of the brand's styling trends, and add a raft of new technologies.
It used to be that the big family bus was long, low, and wide, stylishly decked out in woodgrain and accented with subtle touches like a stand-up hood ornament to add a note of class. Buickâs was the Estate Wagon, a name that subtly conveyed a sense of moneyed suburban ease, and for years it stood near the top of the pecking order. Today, the big family bus is long and tall but still pretty wide, stylishly decked out with extra-large chrome wheels and accented with subtle touches like LED lighting to add a note of class. Buickâs is the Enclave, a name that also conveys a sense of moneyed suburban ease, and although the shape, the mechanicals, and the features have all changed, the mission remains much the same.
After 2012 ended on a high note, automakers were looking to keep their momentum going in January, and for the most part that's what happened. The seasonally adjusted industry sales rate topped 15 million units, with January's sales running 14 percent ahead of January 2012.
The Buick Enclave revolutionized the brand from Flint, Michigan, when the three-row, seven-passenger package hit the market in 2007. With the sensibilities of a family crossover yet the trappings of an upscale luxury car, the Enclave drew parents into Buick showrooms that had for years attracted more grandparents than the early-bird roast beef special. In fact the Enclave set the stage for a subsequent overhaul of the entire Buick lineup, and the average age of a Buick buyer dropped to 57 from 64.
It's been a long time coming for the Buick Enclave's first facelift. With a recess for bankruptcy along the way, three years to the typical mid-cycle refresh has become five years. Fortunately for GM, the Enclave and its Lambda-platform siblings -- the Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia -- were assets, not liabilities, when the cash dried up. The sensible family haulers were well positioned to weather a financial drought as the rebuttal to a criticism that GM couldn't build a car that people actually wanted. For Buick, the efficient, stylish, upscale crossover had single-handedly resuscitated a brand that previously looked as healthy as Oldsmobile.
If sales volumes accurately predicted quality, we might think Justin Bieber were a better musician than Mozart. But in many areas of life, the most popular things are not always the greatest. That certainly holds true for cars: the Ford F-150 and Toyota Camry may be the two top-selling vehicles in America, but that doesn't necessarily mean they are absolutely the best new cars on the market.
General Motors' sprawling Milford Proving Grounds has seen plenty of bizarre creations in its eight-plus decades of operation, from Firebird turbine concepts to a V-16 Cadillac Escalade. And now there's this: a compact Buick sedan stuffed with a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine and a six-speed manual transmission.
The Gran Sport name has had plenty of peaks and valleys since it first appeared on a Buick back in the mid Sixties. The most recent offerings were nothing special, and the moniker was retired for a while. Now, the slimmed-down General Motors has fewer brands to feed, giving it more leeway to resurrect the idea of a sporting Buick, in the hope of giving the division the cache enjoyed by premium European (and Japanese) brands. With the Buick Regal GS, it is doing so with an actual European car, as the underlying architecture is primarily that of the Opel Insignia (and, also, the Chevrolet Malibu). And although the idea is laudable, the execution is wanting, chiefly in some of the subjective areas that the old pros in the sports sedan game usually get right.
"Big as a Buick" is a phrase that rolls easily off the tongue, and for good reason. For decades, one of this stalwart brand's consistent deliverables was sheetmetal and lots of it. That started becoming a problem, however, round about the days of the first gas crisis. Buick, like other GM divisions, rushed out a series of smaller entries, most of them called Skylark -- although a Skyhawk also snuck in there. And most of them were forgettably, or regrettably, restyled versions of cheap Chevrolets.
Comments left on previous articles about the Regal GS generally fall into two distinct groups: those who are irked that the new GS isn't a re-pop of the rear-wheel-drive Grand National they adored as a kid, or those who are irked that GM didn't just import the Opel Insignia OPC's driveline -- peaky twin-turbocharged V-6, all-wheel-drive, and all -- into the United States.
Buick has a surprisingly efficient and smooth-driving machine in the LaCrosse eAssist. The LaCrosse's large size doesn't do much to change the perception that Buick is for older customers, but there's a reasonably up-to-date infotainment system inside, and the exterior styling is far more radical than Buicks of a few years ago.
After five years on the market, the Buick Enclave, which was introduced in May 2007 as 2008 model, is getting its first significant makeover. Like its sibling, the Chevrolet Traverse, the 2013-model Enclave is making its debut at the New York Auto Show.
I love that the compact car segment is filled with new cars that are only small when judged against the mid-size car segment. In case you didn't notice, the Verano, like the Cruze it's based on, is not really compact. In the same way, the Honda Accord, which is the size of my house, isn't really mid-size.
Fewer than twenty years after the first-generation Buick Riviera debuted, I was induced to write a chapter on cars for the Catalog of Cool, a cultural compendium assembled by an editorial team of swingin' savants. One of the entries: "Buick's hippest move was the Riviera (especially '63-'65): two-door hardtops with bucket seats, sharp looking from every angle. Inspiration apparently struck style chief Bill Mitchell one foggy night in London town -- a coachbuilt Rolls sliced through the mist, Bill flashed, and the Riv was born." Another three decades on from those scribblings, Mitchell's divine inspiration still has us fawning. His goal to combine the formality of a razor-edge Rolls-Royce with the aggressive stance of a Ferrari stands as one of the greatest styling triumphs of the midcentury.
Buick has pulled a complete 180 in the past five years, revitalizing its lineup with well-crafted models and attracting younger buyers. These younger buyers apparently want smaller, more efficient premium vehicles and Buick plans to keep chasing the trend with its compact 2013 Encore crossover.
Weâve been building up to this for the past couple months. New-car sales have been strengthening through the fall, and it now appears that automakers will end the year on a high note. Certainly that was the case in November, with industry sales running 14% ahead of last year (nearly double the increase we saw in October). That made for an annualized sales rate of 13.6 million, which is a high for the year. Anyone who has been near a TV this past month knows that automakers got a jump on the typical year-end sales frenzy with a nonstop ad blitz. The sell-a-thon has made for bigger incentives than last month, and yet analysts claim, paradoxically, that transaction prices are still strong. An aging national fleet and pent-up demand created by several slow sales years is considered to be the underlying factor driving these larger volumes. If thatâs the case, then the auto industry wonât just enjoy a strong finish to 2011, but could be poised for good 2012 as well.
You might think that Buicks are always big, but history tells us that this isn't necessarily so. Way back in 1975, Buick introduced a version of the Chevy Monza called the Skyhawk. It was some twenty inches shorter than any other Buick model at the time and was powered by General Motors' newly resurrected V-6 (the tooling for which had been sold to American Motors in the late '60s). The two-door Skyhawk does not look pretty through our 2012 lens, but then again, not much from 1975 does. The quad-headlamp, rear-wheel-drive hatchback was a quick and easy way for Buick, whose sales plummeted after the 1973 OPEC oil embargo, to sell a more fuel-efficient car. Americans, by and large, would hear nothing of such a cobbled-together contrivance, and Skyhawk sales were but a blip. The nameplate was discontinued after 1980 but was brought back on a front-wheel-drive J-car in 1982. That car sold well, but we'd venture that no Skyhawk will ever grace the lawn at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.
Hybrid or V-6? That's the choice Buick is offering LaCrosse buyers for 2012, and neither option is extra-cost.
Although Buick may be using the term concept fairly loosely here, the LaCrosse GL Concept -- which is slated to make its full unveiling next week at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show -- gives a glimpse into the brains of Buick's designers and the future palette of the tri-shield brand.
New-car sales in October built on the surprising strength seen last month, maintaining an annual pace of better than 13 million units. Overall volume was up by 8% over last October, and the brisk sales pace was the best since February. Not even the slap-happiest Pollyanna would say that the rebound is due to a strengthening economy, but at the same time, automakers have not had to blast cars out of their showrooms with a fire hose of incentive money. Instead, the upswing appears to be due to pent-up demand. Demand for Japanese cars is getting easier to meet as inventories recover, but Toyota and Honda still came in under last-year's totals. Compared to the recent past, however, things went from bad to considerably less bad, which counts as good news, these days.
How does a European sport sedan dovetail with an American luxury brand that exists because the Chinese want to ride in the back of pillowy four-doors? It's a mind-melting philosophical question, but the answer is simple for the masters of brand management. After a seven-year sabbatical, the forty-seven-year-old Gran Sport name is back.
There was a time when the Buick Estate Wagon was a go-to car for well-heeled families looking for a big, comfortable cruiser capable of carrying the whole crew and all their stuff. Those wagons are long gone, but the needs they met still exist. Today, we like our big family cars in crossover form, and Buick's Enclave stands ready to serve. Conservatively handsome, not unlike the clothes worn by its owners, the Enclave's styling is now five years old but doesn't look dated. Although the Enclave is based on the same platform as the GMC Acadia and the Chevrolet Traverse, the Buick is distinctive inside and out. As in its corporate counterparts, the lone engine offering is GM's 3.6-liter V-6, which comes with a six-speed automatic transmission. Its 288 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque are stout enough to move the hefty (4780-pound) Enclave without laboring and can tow up to 4500 pounds. Fuel economy is not bad at 17/24 mpg (city/highway) with front-wheel drive; opting for all-wheel drive lowers it to 16/22 mpg. Unlike some three-row crossovers, the Enclave's third-row seats can accommodate the occasional adult or lanky teen. Luggage space behind them, however, is fairly limited. As you might expect from a Buick, the Enclave rides comfortably and quietly. The interior is nicely finished, and plenty of luxury options are available. One we'd particularly recommend is the backup camera, as visibility out the back is not great in most larger crossovers. The Enclave is not at all retro, but its character and capabilities are classic Buick.